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Molinari-Jobin, A.; Zimmermann, F.; Ryser, A.; Molinari, P.; Haller, H.; Breitenmoser-Wuersten, C.; Capt, S.; Eyholzer, R.; Breitenmoser, U.
Variation in diet, prey selectivity and home-range size of Eurasian lynx _Lynx lynx_ in Switzerland
2007  Wildlife Biology (13): 393-405

To analyse the factors responsible for the interplay of Eurasian lynx_ Lynx lynx_ predation and home-range size, we reviewed patterns of lynx predation in Switzerland by comparing the prey spectrum of lynx in five studies performed in the following study areas: the northwestern Alps, where lynx were studied both in the 1980s and 1990s, the central Alps, the Jura Mountains, and northeastern Switzerland. We then compared home-range size of female lynx with two indirect measures of prey abundance, roe deer Capreolus capreolus and chamois Rupicapra rupicapra harvested per km2 and habitat suitability for roe deer and chamois as derived from a GIS model. Lynx diets were similar among sites. Roe deer and chamois made up 90% of prey items in all five studies. Comparing the proportion of roe deer and chamois in the diet with availability, Manly's preference indices indicated selective predation in all studies. Roe deer were preferred over chamois in all areas except in the Jura Mountains where relatively few chamois were present. Predation was least selective in northeastern Switzerland, where the initial phase of recolonisation by lynx was studied. Variation in prey availability is often identified as an important factor explaining intraspecific variation in home-range size. Due to differences in roe deer and chamois abundance from one study area to another, we expected female lynx home ranges to decrease with increasing prey abundance. The predictors for Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) and Kernel home-range estimators differed. MCP homerange sizes were best explained by the interactions of study with the number of locations per lynx, roe deer harvested per km2, and good roe deer habitat, whereas Kernel home-range sizes were best explained by the interactions of study with good roe deer habitat, good chamois habitat, and the interaction of good roe deer and chamois habitat plus an additive effect of the study. Contrary to our expectations, there was no simple correlation of prime roe deer and chamois habitat nor between the number of roe deer and chamois harvested per km2 and the size of female lynx home ranges. The comparison of the five studies suggested that this expectation may only be valid if lynx populations are close to carrying capacity (e.g. the Jura Mountains and the northwestern Alps in the 1990s). For predictions of home-range size both habitat (spatial factor) and the status and dynamic of the predator/prey populations (temporal factor) need to be taken into account.

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